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Allan Bloom’s University and Mine: From Racial Intimidation to Trigger Warnings
by Paul A. Rahe
within Book Reviews, Education
May 25, 2017 07:00 am
Allan Bloom would not have been surprised by recent developments in American higher education, from trigger warnings and safe spaces to micro-aggressions and physical violence.
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The third part of Allan Bloom’s masterwork, The Closing of the American Mind,is devoted to the state of the American university. It deserves special attention, and not just because it is usually ignored. In reading it, those of us who lived through the period it describes will be forced to relive and rethink a bygone era of very great importance for the evolution of higher education in America. Those too young to remember the events that Bloom mentions will discover the antecedents for today’s suppression of public debate concerning the fundamental human questions: who we are and how we should live our lives. We are now reaping the harvest that was sown half a century ago.

To a considerable degree, this part of Bloom’s book is autobiographical, a meditation on the crisis that engulfed Cornell University in April 1969. At the time, Bloom was an associate professor in the Department of Government. His translation of Plato’s Republic had been published late the previous fall, and he was busy teaching a year-long seminar on the book, initially using mimeographs of his translation. As it happens, I was enrolled in that seminar, and the events that took place at Cornell that spring were as seminal for me as they were for Bloom.

I was then in my second year at Cornell and very active on campus. Until late March of 1969, I served on the appeals court of the university student conduct tribunal. I wrote a column for The Cornell Daily Sun, and at the end of the spring vacation I became associate editor of the paper. Because I was a member of the appeals court, I saw the last stage of the crisis, which ostensibly turned on the legitimacy of the judicial system, coming nine months before nearly everyone else. I wrote an account at the time—initially commissioned by The Cornell Alumni Magazine but judged too hot for that journal to publish—which was privately printed and circulated at the time and may soon be available online. Donald Downs, who was at Cornell at the time, later published a bookon the subject.

What Happened at Cornell: The Preliminaries

To understand the events described below, one should be aware that Cornell was the first major university to seek out actively and recruit black students whose college boards scores fell dramatically below those normally required for entrance. In the fall of 1967, a group of these students, enraged at the remarks of a visiting economics professor, poured into the department office, held the chairman captive for seven hours, and roughed up campus patrolmen and Sunreporters who appeared on the scene. An investigation of the professor’s conduct was promised, no one was punished for misconduct, and the visiting professor soon departed.

A year later, on December 6, 1968, a group of fifty black students associated with the Afro-American Society (AAS) forced their way into a meeting of the program committee for the fledgling Afro-American Studies Program. They claimed control over the program, demanding that no whites remain on the committee. On that same day, six black students invaded a university building and evicted the three whites who had offices there. In the process, a Sunreporter was beaten. On the following Sunday, seven black students, brandishing realistic-looking toy guns, stopped traffic on campus and intimidated passersby. Four days thereafter, Cornell President James Perkins agreed to establish a racially segregated Afro-American Studies Program with a black director and a great degree of autonomy and to set aside separate dining facilities for black students.

Two months after these incidents, in the last week of February 1969, members of the AAS disrupted a speech given by a supporter of apartheid at a symposium on South Africa. Others armed with two-by-fours interrupted President Perkins’s introduction of Congressman Allard Lowenstein, demanding that he first answer questions concerning the university’s investment policy.

Two weeks later, on March 10, three alumni recruiting employees for Chase Manhattan Bank were driven from the campus by a violent demonstration involving AAS members. On March 13, when the student conduct tribunal met to engage in a preliminary discussion of the so-called “toy-gun spree,” 150 AAS members massed outside the room in an attempt to intimidate its members. In early April, the administration placed the new Center for Afro-American Studies under the effective control of a board of ten scholars chosen from a list of fifteen nominated by the AAS.

Such were the preliminaries. Then came the storm.

The Storm

At dawn on April 18, 1969—the Saturday of Parents’ Weekend and the day after the student conduct tribunal issued a reprimand (as minor a penalty as was available) to those who had engaged in the “toy-gun spree”—a group of black students, brandishing crowbars, seized control of the student union (Willard Straight Hall), rudely awakened parents sleeping in the guest rooms upstairs, used the crowbars to force open the doors, and ejected them from the union.

Later that day, they brought at least one rifle with a telescopic sight into the building. On Sunday afternoon, the administration agreed to press neither civil nor criminal charges and not to take any other measures to punish those who had occupied Willard Straight Hall, to provide legal assistance to anyone who faced civil charges arising from the occupation, and to recommend that the faculty vote to nullify the reprimands issued to those who had engaged in the “toy-gun spree.” Upon hearing that this agreement had been reached, 110 black students marched out of Willard Straight Hall in military formation to celebrate their victory, carrying more than seventeen rifles and bands of ammunition.

The next day, when the faculty balked and stopped short of accepting the administration’s recommendation, one AAS leader went on the campus radio and threatened to “deal with” three political science professors and three administrators, whom he singled out by name, “as we will deal with all racists.” Finally, on Wednesday, April 23, the faculty met at a special meeting and capitulated to the demands of the AAS, rescinding the reprimand issued by the student conduct tribunal and calling for a restructuring of the university.

Bloom was among the stalwarts who fought to stiffen the faculty’s resolve, as were his fellow political scientists Allan Sindler (who had played a prominent role as a strategist in the civil rights movement) and Walter Berns. The latter two were among those singled out by name over the radio, and they responded to the capitulation of the faculty by resigning their professorships on national television. Berns, who was Bloom’s close friend, prevented him from immediately following suit. Eventually, however, Bloom too left Cornell for the University of Toronto. As for me, after denouncing what had been done in the pages of The Cornell Daily Sun and successfully working with others to get Perkins fired from his post as president of the university, I transferred to Yale.

These events—above all, the astonishing display of cowardice and fecklessness by the faculty in the face of a movement that openly threatened academic freedom—form the backdrop to Bloom’s ruminations on the American university. It was in this light that he considered the trajectory of philosophy from Socrates to Martin Heidegger—whose Rektoratsrede, an address delivered at the University of Freiburg in 1933, he singles out for close examination. Bloom believed that the intellectual ethos that had led to the collapse of the German university in the face of National Socialism had since come to dominate and undermine the American university.

There is nothing that has happened in American higher education in the last few years that would have surprised Bloom. The demand for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces,” the offense taken at so-called “micro-aggressions,” and the resort to violence are a parody of the rougher stuff that happened in Germany in the mid-1930s. Bloom believed that the cowardice displayed by university administrations and faculties in the face of thuggery back in the late 1960s portended an end for the life of the mind in the United States. Recent events at Yale University, the University of Missouri, Claremont McKenna College, the University of California at Berkeley, Middlebury College, and elsewhere suggest that he was right. On most campuses, the most important questions can no longer be posed, and students, as well as faculty members, engage in self-censorship.

The Tyranny of the Majority and the Power of Liberal Education

In the first section of the first chapter in the part of his book devoted to the university, Bloom turns to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America—from which he gleans the premise of his argument: that there is a profound tension between liberal democracy and the life of the mind. If, he intimates, there is a closing of the American mind, it is, as Tocqueville indicated, because in democratic ages equality is the norm. When no individuals or groups really stand out, the only authority is popular opinion, and, without pausing to reflect on what they are doing, human beings tend to follow its lead.

Tocqueville’s tyranny of the majority is gentle. It does not require violence, for its reign is psychological. Those who do not surrender to the temper of the times tend to be shunned. Those who do not go along tend not to get along.

In Bloom’s view, the only thing that stands in the way of this species of tyranny is liberal education. At the best universities, young people—at an age when the most intelligent are filled with an erotic longing for the beautiful and the good—are exposed to what Matthew Arnold called “lost causes and forsaken beliefs.” When, at the age of fifteen, Bloom journeyed from Indianapolis to the University of Chicago, he found this oasis of learning profoundly liberating. He was exposed to Plato, Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and other great authors in an environment where their greatness was taken for granted and one was expected to pore over them, comparing their arguments with one another and considering whether and to what degree what each had to say was true. This opened up new horizons and enabled him to confront the larger world with a puzzled and critical eye.

In Bloom’s opinion, liberal education—an education that liberates students from an enslavement to reigning public opinion by awakening them from dogmatic slumber—is a boon for liberal democracy. It promotes an open-mindedness and a detached perspective on present political struggles that is essential to the proper exercise of citizenship. As he puts it, “the successful university is proof that a society can be devoted to the well-being of all, without stunting human potential or imprisoning the mind to the goals of the regime.” It is “an unpopular institution in our midst that sets clarity above well-being or compassion, that resists our powerful urges and temptations, that is free of all snobbism but has standards.”

Although it is frequently interpreted as a political polemic, Bloom’s book is actually a call for a return to Socratic rationalism. For it is only on the premise that reason might be able to provide us with guidance regarding the good life that liberal education is defensible.

Paul A. Rahe is Professor of History at Hillsdale College. He has written several books, including, most recently, two on ancient Lacedaemon: The Spartan Regime: Its Origins, Characterand Grand Strategy and The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge. He is currently working on a sequel to the latter volume titled The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Athenian Challenge. He can be found at

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24 MAY 17

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Lectionary: 293

Reading 1

ACTS 17:15, 22—18:1

After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens,

they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy

to join him as soon as possible.

Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:

“You Athenians, I see that in every respect

you are very religious.

For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines,

I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’

What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and all that is in it,

the Lord of heaven and earth,

does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,

nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything.

Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.

He made from one the whole human race

to dwell on the entire surface of the earth,

and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,

so that people might seek God,

even perhaps grope for him and find him,

though indeed he is not far from any one of us.

For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’

as even some of your poets have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’

   Since therefore we are the offspring of God,

we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image

fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.

God has overlooked the times of ignorance,

but now he demands that all people everywhere repent

because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world

with justice’ through a man he has appointed,

and he has provided confirmation for all

by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about resurrection of the dead,

some began to scoff, but others said,

“We should like to hear you on this some other time.”

And so Paul left them.

But some did join him, and became believers.

Among them were Dionysius,

a member of the Court of the Areopagus,

a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14

R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.


R. Alleluia.

Praise the LORD from the heavens;

praise him in the heights.

Praise him, all you his angels;

praise him, all you his hosts.

R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.


R. Alleluia.

Let the kings of the earth and all peoples,

   the princes and all the judges of the earth,

Young men too, and maidens,

old men and boys.

R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.


R. Alleluia.

Praise the name of the LORD,

for his name alone is exalted;

His majesty is above earth and heaven.

R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.


R. Alleluia.

He has lifted up the horn of his people;

Be this his praise from all his faithful ones,

from the children of Israel, the people close to him.


R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.


R. Alleluia.


JN 14:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

I will ask the Father

and he will give you another Advocate

to be with you always.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.


JN 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,

he will guide you to all truth.

He will not speak on his own,

but he will speak what he hears,

(4)   and will declare to you the things that are coming.

He will glorify me,

because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

Everything that the Father has is mine;

for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine

and declare it to you.”



“Little children, love one another !”

Don’t be shocked.

I know that you are not children anymore.

I know that you who have completed your secondary education and are about to begin your lives as young adults.

I extend to you, the graduates 2017, my sincere congratulations, best wishes and prayerful blessing.

Actually, when I addressed you as “little children” a moment ago I was quoting another 93 year old bishop (actually, an Apostle) who lived over nineteen hundred years ago.

I am referring to Saint John the Evangelist,  was just read to us.

Saint John always opened and closed his preaching with those words:

“Little children, love one another!”

Saint Polycarp, who was Saint John’s disciple asked him one day:

“Why do you always begin and end your preaching by saying, ‘little children, love one another.’”

Saint John replied:

“Because in saying that  I sum up all of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Saint John was the apostle especially loved by Jesus.  As they reclined at table at the Last Supper Jesus allowed John to rest his head on the chest of Jesus.

As Jesus hung dying on the cross only John remained there with Mary the Mother

of Jesus, all the other apostles had fled for fear of their lives.

So, I suggest that John knew what he was saying when he began and ended every talk with the command:
“Little childlren, love one another!

I am confident that what John had in mind was something that Jesus had said that Saint Matthew recorded in his Gospel:

 “Then Jesus said, “I tell all of you with certainty, unless you change and become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom from heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

You are probably not too happy to hear that.  Here you are on the threshold of becoming young adults, enjoying  emancipation from parental control and


you hear that you must become like little children.  What did Jesus mean by that?

One thing is certain, he did not mean for us to be childish.  The words of Saint Paul make that clear:

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.”    (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Jesus was referring to one of the principle characteristic of children:  openness.

Children a curious, they ask questions, they are filled with awe at something new and beautiful, something that delights the mind or the senses.

Another characteristic of children is trust.

One of the most difficult things every person must do at every stage of life is to

make decisions, to make choices.  From the earliest age children trust their parents to make decisions for them.  Gradually as one grows up parents allow their children to make more and more choices on their own.  You have probably already learned the hard way that sometimes making decisons, choosing, on one’s own can lead to painful consequences.

That is why Jesus tell you that he will not leave you as orphans, with no one you trust to turn to to help you make the difficult choices in life.  The person Jesus gives you to help you make difficult decisions, choices, when your parents are not longer available to you on a daily basis is


The problem is that sometimes it is hard to hear the Holy Spirit when he whispers in

the ear of our conscience “do it” or “don’t do it.”  It is pretty hard to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit when your iPod is blasting away in the earbuds in your ears or the cell phone is glued to your ear.

All of this is to help you be free to love more perfectly.  A life without love is a life that is not worth living.  Saint Paul said it bluntly and perfectly:

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 2)

In the light of all this you can see then that the biggest challenge you will face in your newly emancipated life will be choosing who and what to love.

There is no escaping it.  You must choose. and it is in your choices that you will prove that you have grown to become the mature Christian man and woman that Jesus Christ had in mind when he created you in your mother’s womb.

My little children, love one another!

Let us pray.

Almighty God,

Eternal Father,

Bless these graduates as they enter into this new phase of their life.

Grant that they may be responsive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all of their choices so that they grow in love with you and with those who share their lives.

This we ask through your Son,

Jesus Christ,

and the Holy Spirit,

One God,

for ever and ever.

Amen !!! 

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The suggestion that discriminatory nastiness is at the root of the perfectly logical biological desire for people to have sex with members of the opposite biological sex is merely a slur, a crutch to cover up the illogic of the far left when it comes to gender and sex.

No, You’re Not A Bigot If You Don’t Want To Have Sex With Everyone

Sara D. Davis/Getty ImagesA sign for a bathroom door with a figure that is half-female and half-male. The sign reads "Whichever."

Yes, you.

You’re a bigot.

Are you a straight man who only wants to have sex with women? Are you a gay man who only wants to have sex with men? Are you a bisexual man who wants to have sex with people of both sexes but only if they are good-looking? Are you asexual?

You’re a bigot.

According to Samantha Allen of The Daily Beast, it is deeply “disappointing but unsurprising” that under 20 percent of Americans in a recent survey said they would be open to having sex with a transgender person. That’s because, she says, “Cultural acceptance has tended to lag behind formal recognition.”

It turns out that according to the left, all sexual behavior is malleable and based largely on social structures that have been implemented by the patriarchy. Men and women don’t exist but for their self-perception — we know that a man can be a woman and a woman can be a man, regardless of biology. That’s why Caitlyn Jenner isn’t just a man with a mental disorder and some plastic surgery and hormone injections; Caitlyn Jenner is as much of a woman as Michelle Obama. The left reasons that if a man can be a woman, then a man who only wants to have sex with biological women must be a bigot — his desires have been wrongly defined by a society that restricted the definition of womanhood to, you know, women. If only men had been exposed to the deeper truth of gender earlier. If only they’d known that some women have male genitalia. Then, perhaps they’d be willing to have sex with biological men who are actually women.

The same holds true with regard to homosexuals, of course. If a woman is a lesbian, it’s discriminatory of her to not want to have sex with a man who identifies as a woman. Her desires have also been shaped by her environment. And her environment has drawn a stark but wrong — oh, ever so wrong! — line between biological men and biological women.

If all of this sounds insane, that’s because it is. Straight men are attracted to women, not men who identify as women. Straight women are attracted to biological men. As a general rule, homosexuals are attracted to members of the same biological sex. Attempting to pretend away reality doesn’t change that reality.

But the left is plagued by two myths that lie in direct opposition to one another. The first: All human behavior can be changed by changing society at large. The second: All human sexual behavior is innate and unchanging. Under the first myth, if we just train people that men and women are the same and that even their genitals don’t provide a meaningful difference, men will begin having sex with transgender women, and women will begin having sex with transgender men. Under the second myth, however, transgender identity itself is immutable and unchanging, as is homosexuality and heterosexuality. This provides an unanswerable conundrum for transgender advocates: How can they get people to accept transgender people sexually when people’s sexuality is supposedly unchanging?

So the left merely ignores the problem and papers it over with the word “bigot.”

Reality isn’t bigotry. People are attracted to those they are attracted to. There is a biological component to that as well as a cultural component. But ignoring biology in favor of culture is idiotic, and ignoring culture in favor of biology is ignorant. They both play a part. The suggestion that discriminatory nastiness is at the root of the perfectly logical biological desire for people to have sex with members of the opposite biological sex is merely a slur, a crutch to cover up the illogic of the far left when it comes to gender and sex.

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Chief Exorcist Father Amorth: Padre Pio Knew The Third Secret



In a recent article on the Secret of Fatima, Steve Skojec, the founder and editor of OnePeterFive, published, to my knowledge, for the first time in the English language words from Rome’s chief exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth (d. 2016), about Padre Pio and his knowledge of the Third Secret of Fatima. They come from a newly published book written by José María Zavala, entitled The Best Kept Secret of Fatima (El Sécreto Mejor Guardado de Fátima). OnePeterFive‘s contributor, Mr. Andrew Guernsey, was very helpful in finding these quotes. Since Mr. Skojec’s own article is somewhat lengthy, many readers may not have realized the importance of this interview with Father Amorth, which was only to be published after the priest’s death. In the following, I shall quote extensively from Steve’s own post which first speaks about Father Amorth’s own conviction that the specific Consecration of Russia has not yet taken place, and then enters into the larger discussion about Fatima:

It [a piece of the Fatima puzzle] came in the form of an interview with the very famous (and now deceased) Roman exorcist, Fr. Gabriel Amorth, also conducted by José María Zavala. Fr. Amorth personally knew Saint (Padre) Pio for 26 years, and it is from this towering figure of 20th century Catholic sanctity that he claims to have learned the contents of the Third Secret of Fatima.

Fr. Amorth was interviewed by Zavala in 2011, who kept the interview secret until after the exorcist’s death, publishing it for the first time in his book about Fatima. In the interview, Fr. Amorth relates — as he has done elsewhere — that he does not believe the consecration of the world by Pope John Paul II in 1984 was sufficient to satisfy the requirements set forth by Our Lady.

“There was no such consecration then,” he [Father Amorth] says. “I witnessed the act. I was in St. Peter’s Square that Sunday afternoon, very close to the Pope; so close, I could almost touch him.”

Pressed by Zavala as to why he so forcefully believes that the consecration was not done, Fr. Amorth replied: “Very simple: John Paul II wanted to mention Russia expressly, but in the end he did not.”

Zavala pressed the issue with Fr. Amorth, saying that Sister Lucia herself (as mentioned above) had said that Heaven had accepted the consecration. He describes an incredulous reaction from Fr. Amorth. “Lucia said that…?” He asked. Zavala continues:

“Well, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said it, in the year 2000, hiding behind a letter [escudándose en una carta] from Lucia dated November 1989, in which she stated that Heaven had admitted consecration in spite of one of the most important conditions.

“Have you seen that letter?” He asks, as if conducting a police interrogation in search of evidence.

“Never,” I say flatly.

“I do not think you’ll ever see it, because I’m convinced that Lucia did not write it.”

“How are you so sure of that?”

“Why didn’t Bertone show it when he should have, when he announced the Third Secret of Fatima? A simple photocopy of the manuscript, included in the official dossier of the Vatican, would have been sufficient to dispel any doubt. If the Vatican has always been scrupulous in providing the documentary proof that authenticated the information by Lucia on minor matters, what reason would they have to skimp on the only documentary evidence that, according to Bertone, validated a fact that without doubt was of as much importance as the consecration performed by John Paul II?

“Yes, it’s weird,” I admit.

“You really think Lucia took five years to write that the consecration had been truly accepted? And that Bertone waited no less than sixteen years to announce the validity of something so crucial as the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?” Father Amorth’s voice sounds like dry leaves.

“It’s all very strange, in truth.” I [Zavala] nod again.

“Moreover,” he adds, “if the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary made by Pius XII in 1942 was only partially accepted [because he did not specifically mention Russia – ed], for Jesus said that in view of it the war would only be shortened rather than finished immediately, why would He now change his mind with John Paul II, if Russia was not mentioned on this occasion?”

“It would be an incongruity, yes.”



“I have no doubt that the consecration did not occur on the terms required by the Virgin. But we must not lose sight of what she herself wanted to tell us through Lucia: ‘In the end My Heart Immaculate will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and it will become [come to be], [thereby] granting itself to the world a time of peace’…”

The interview digresses here from the topic of Fatima, but Zavala returns to it again later:

Forgive me for insisting on the Third Secret of Fatima: Did Padre Pio relate it, then, to the loss of faith within the Church?”

Fr. Gabriele furrows his brow and sticks out his chin. He seems very affected.

“Indeed,” he states, “One day Padre Pio said to me very sorrowfully: ‘You know, Gabriele? It is Satan who has been introduced into the bosom of the Church and within a very short time will come to rule a false Church.’”

“Oh my God! Some kind of Antichrist! When did he prophesy this to you?” I [Zavala] ask.

“It must have been about 1960, since I was already a priest then.”

“Was that why John XXIII had such a panic about publishing the Third Secret of Fatima, so that the people wouldn’t think that he was the anti-pope or whatever it was …?”

A slight but knowing smile curls the lips of Father Amorth.

Did Padre Pio say anything else to you about future catastrophes: earthquakes, floods, wars, epidemics, hunger …? Did he allude to the same plagues prophesied in the Holy Scriptures?” [asks Mr. Zavala]

Nothing of the sort mattered to him, however terrifying they proved to be, except for the great apostasy within the Church. This was the issue that really tormented him and for which he prayed and offered a great part of his suffering, crucified out of love.” [says Fr. Amorth]

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Cardinal Vincent Nichols: “shock and dismay” over Islamic Attack

[As usual Islam is not mentioned. Islamic attacks occur on a frequent basis, so why the “shock?”]

Card Nichols expresses “shock and dismay” Manchester attack

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, issues a statement on the attack in Manchester. – EPA

23/05/2017 13:17

(CBCEW) The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, has expressed his “shock and dismay” at the horrific attack at Manchester Arena on Monday, 22 May 2017.

Cardinal Nichols’ statement, below, was posted on Twitter


“My shock and dismay at the horrendous killing of young and innocent people in the Manchester Arena, last night, is I know, shared by all people of good will.

“I know too that Catholics and many others will be praying earnestly for those who have been killed, for the bereaved and for grieving loved ones.

“We pray in support of all those working so hard in response to this tragedy; the police and security forces, hospital staff, neighbours and friends and for all the people of Manchester.

“May God, in His mercy, strengthen and sustain us and keep us firmly united in the face of all evil.”

HE Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

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Faux Life? Why a Texas ‘Pro-Life’ Org Fought a Dismemberment Ban

A proposed law to stop a gruesome abortion procedure has made its way through the Texas state legislature, but it is running into some surprising opposition from an organization that bills itself as pro-life.

A provision to ban the performance of dismemberment (also known as D&E and D&X) abortions, except in the case of a “medical emergency,” passed the state senate back in March and the House on Friday.

However, some of the opposition to the bill’s passage might surprise anyone not familiar with abortion politics in the Lone Star State. While pushback from major pro-abortion groups is to be expected, one pro-life group has been actively campaigning against the measure. Texas Alliance for Life, and its executive director, Joe Pojman, spent months leading up to the final House vote, recommending that the legislature reject the ban on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

For reference, this is exactly what happens during a dismemberment abortion:

During one of these procedures, the preborn child is ripped apart in utero before being pulled out through the birth canal piece-by-piece.

But efforts to ban the practice have been thus far opposed by Pojman’s group, which sent out a letter to state legislators urging them to vote against the measure.

Furthermore, for an organization that is dedicated to “protect[ing] innocent human life from conception through natural death through peaceful, legal means,” Texas Alliance for Life stood alone in its opposition to the bill, as several other pro-life organizations lined up behind the legislation.

If the measure were to become law, the letter speculates to lawmakers, “it would not survive a federal court challenge” because of rulings in previous cases, even though the ruling would occur in the 5th Circuit (which is perhaps the most friendly court in the federal system because of its makeup).

Empower Texans, a conservative state-level grassroots organization, explains on its website that Texas Alliance for Life’s Joe Pojman testified on the bill before the committee in February, and recommended that the legislature not pass it, alongside activists from the National Abortion Rights Action League, better known as NARAL.  See Pojman’s testimony here:

“Pojman’s remarks today plant dangerous land mines in the way of any legal strategy to defend SB 415 if it passes and is challenged in court,” said Tony McDonald, Empower Texans’ general counsel, at the time. “Abortion groups will use Pojman’s testimony as a ‘confession’ that SB 415 is so ‘extreme’ that even pro-life groups are opposing it.”

And that very thing happened at the 11th hour.

Prior to the vote on Friday, Jessica Farrar, a staunchly pro-abortion Democrat state representative, invoked Pojman’s testimony while speaking in against the provision, which was attached as an amendment to a larger legislative package, on the House floor.

“Are you aware that Texas Alliance for Life testified against this bill in the senate committee?” Farrar publicly asked of Republican Representative Stephanie Klick, contending that the measure was “unconstitutional.”

Pojman responded to Empower Texans’ claims, calling them inaccurate and saying that his testimony was “on” the bill and that he did not take a side (before diving into his reasons for not supporting the bill).

Texas Right to Life Legislative Director John Seago disputes the assertions, however, saying that they are based on what he calls a “fundamental flaw their assessment of the policy” that runs parallel to many pro-abortion criticism of the legislation.

Counter to such judicial concerns, the prevailing reasoning among many pro-life advocates in favor of outlawing the procedure argues that – since the legislation bans a procedure outright – it would fall in line with the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling that upheld the 2003 national partial-birth abortion ban, off of which Seago says the current language in Austin is based.

“[Opponents] have read the bill and understand the bill to be prohibiting all D+E abortions,” Seago told Conservative Review. “That is a gross mischaracterization of the bill, just like the partial birth abortion ban doesn’t prohibit all late abortions; it prohibits one specific procedure.”

“Some pro-lifers are worried about going to court,” he says, admitting that any such litigation is a gamble on some level. “But we understand, the pro-life movement lives in the shadow of Roe v. Wade and the only way we’re going to take down this legal edifice is by working in the courts,” like it did with the partial-birth ban.

“That doesn’t worry us,” Seago said. “That’s how the movement has to move forward.”

“I can’t understand TAL’s objections to a dismemberment ban — I don’t get it at all,” says JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots America, who has been a conservative activist in Texas for over 20 years.

“I’ve seen the objection about how the court will unravel it and this, that and the other, that and the other,” she adds, but “If we have to fight for life in the courts, then we simply take the fight to the courts. We don’t withdraw from that fight just because we might have to do battle in court.”

To Pojman’s assertions that the current legislation will not save any lives in effect, Seago points to similar criticisms made about the partial birth debate and of pain-capable bills, which have both proven to decrease abortion rates.

However, critics say aren’t surprised by TAL’s opposition to the ban, as they say the group has previously fought to either dilute or otherwise obfuscate pro-life legislation in the state. Republican Representative and Texas Freedom Caucus member Matt Rinaldi claims that the group has sought to water down other legislation before, such as the original version of a 2011 sonogram bill.

“They’ll pick bills [to support] that don’t really accomplish much,” explains Rinaldi. “They act as a cover group for leadership in killing pro-life reforms.”

Rinaldi tells Conservative Review that he views Texas Alliance’s efforts to weaken or oppose stronger pro-life bills as “disgusting,” mainly because they are supported by funds from pro-life donors.

“Their donors and supports don’t realize that they’re being had,” Rinaldi said. “I think it’s despicable.”

Responding to Rinaldi’s statements, Pojman put forward TAL’s list of legislative priorities this session, calling the agenda both “aggressive and substantive.”

“Our goal is to protect unborn children from abortions throughout pregnancy,” reads an emailed statement from Pojman to Conservative Review. “However, we do not recommend that the Legislature pass the dismemberment ban this session because it will not sustain an inevitable court challenge. There are not sufficient votes on the US Supreme Court to uphold it.”

Meanwhile, the group’s critics say, the organization also provides cover for establishment Republicans who would rather not take the heat for voting in favor of stronger pro-life legislation, but still want to don a pro-life mantle come election time.

Chronicling documented financial exchange between House leadership and TAL, Empower Texans’ executive director Michael Q. Sullivan wrote in a 2015 op-ed at Breitbart News that the group’s rhetoric about the pro-life bona fides of certain members of the legislative leadership – most notably state Speaker Joe Straus – did an “about face” following a large influx of cash to the nonprofit’s political action committee. Pojman responded to Sullivan, calling the assertions “misinformation.”

Disagreements over how to best protect the unborn, however, are not specific to a few policy groups in the Lone Star State nor a single dismemberment bill, Seago told CR. Rather, they are endemic of a tactical split in the pro-life movement as a whole.

Whereas some pro-life organizations develop their political priorities based on where the movement needs to go, he says, “Unfortunately, all I’ve seen some pro-life groups in Texas and other states do is show up and see what the politicians give them” and then tout those items as priorities.

“You can’t just give [elected officials] cover,” Seago says against this approach. “The pro-life movement really has to objectively determine where we need to go and then hold our politicians accountable.” (For more from the author of “Faux Life? Why a Texas ‘Pro-Life’ Org Fought a Dismemberment Ban” please click HERE)

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Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son

DefendersFeaturedVoice of the Family

Bishop Schneider: “the life of many Catholics and ministers of the Church could be characterized as a great apostasy”

Marvelous advice from a true shepherd.
This address was delivered by His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana in Kazakhstan, on 19 May 2017 at the fourth annual Rome Life Forum, which is organised by Voice of the Family.

The family has been created immediately by God, so the Magisterium of the Church teaches us (cf. Pius XI., Encyclical Divini illius magistri, 12). Pope Leo XIII says in his magisterial encyclical on marriage and family: “Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son; and therefore there abides in it something holy and religious; not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature. Innocent III, therefore, and Honorius III, our predecessors, affirmed not falsely nor rashly that a sacrament of marriage existed ever amongst the faithful and unbelievers” (Concerning Innocent III, see Corpus juris canonici, cap. 8, De divort., ed. cit., Part 2, col. 723. Innocent III refers to 1 Cor. 7:13. Concerning Honorius III, see cap. ii, De transact., (op. cit., Part 2 col. 210).)” (Encyclical Arcanum Divinae, n. 19, 10 February 1880).

“The family therefore holds directly from the Creator the mission and hence the right to educate the offspring, a right inalienable because inseparably joined to the strict obligation, a right anterior to any right whatever of civil society and of the State, and therefore inviolable on the part of any power on earth” (Pius XI., Encyclical Divini illius magistri, 32). Parents are therefore under a grave obligation to see to the religious and moral education of their children (CIC 1917, can. 1113 and CIC 1983, can. 793).

Pope Leo XIII gave us a very concise explanation about the original and first duty of parents concerning the education of their children, and in the first place concerning the education in the Catholic faith. This duty has its foundation in the natural order of the Divine creation: “The common sense of mankind is in such complete accord, that they would be in open contradiction with it who dared maintain that the children belong to the State before they belong to the family, and that the State has an absolute right over their education. Untenable is the reason they adduce, namely that man is born a citizen and hence belongs primarily to the State, not bearing in mind that before being a citizen man must exist; and existence does not come from the State, but from the parents. The children are something of the father, and as it were an extension of the person of the father; and, to be perfectly accurate, they enter into and become part of civil society, not directly by themselves, but through the family in which they were born” (Encyclical Rerum novarum). “And therefore,” says the same Pope Leo XIII, “the father’s power is of such a nature that it cannot be destroyed or absorbed by the State; for it has the same origin as human life itself.” (ibid.). Pope Leo XIII declares in another memorable encyclical, where he thus sums up the rights and duties of parents: “By nature parents have a right to the education of their children, but with this added duty that the education and instruction of the child be in accord with the end for which by God’s blessing it was begotten. Therefore it is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent any invasion of their rights in this matter, and to make absolutely sure that the education of their children remain under their own control in keeping with their Christian duty, and above all to refuse to send them to those schools in which there is danger of imbibing the deadly poison of impiety” (Encyclical Sapientiae christianae)” (Pius XI., Encyclical Divini illius magistri, 35).

Already more than seventy years ago Pope Pius XII made an appeal to the Christian families to be new crusaders in spreading and defending the true Catholic faith in midst of the general and heavy torpor into which the drugs of false ideas, widely diffused, have sunk the human family in the twentieth century. This diagnosis, which Pius XII made about the spiritual health of his time, is fully applicable to our times and it became even much worse. Pius XII said: “It is for the best and most distinguished members of the Christian family, filled with the enthusiasm of Crusaders, to unite in the spirit of truth, justice and love to the call; God wills it, ready to serve, to sacrifice themselves, like the Crusaders of old. If the issue was then the liberation of the land hallowed by the life of the Incarnate Word of God, the call today is, if We may so express Ourselves, to traverse the sea of errors of our day and to march on to free the holy land of the spirit, which is destined to sustain in its foundations the unchangeable norms and laws on which will rise a social construction of solid internal consistency.” (Christmas Message of 1942).

The first and most holy goal and end of matrimony and family consists in giving birth of new citizens of heaven. Pope Leo XIII said: “By the command of Christ, it not only looks to the propagation of the human race, but to the bringing forth of children for the Church, “fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God”;(Eph. 2:19) so that “a people might be born and brought up for the worship and religion of the true God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Catechismus Romanus, cap. 8)” (Encyclical Arcanum Divinae, 10). The family is therefore the first and original place, where the integrity and the beauty of the Catholic faith should be taught to the children, and by this way handed over to the future generations. In deed from this transmission of the faith depends the spiritual healthy of a nation as taught Pope Pius XII: “The family is holy. It is the cradle not only for the children, but the entire nations. Man and woman should pass on the torch of the physical and also spiritual, of the moral and pf the Christian life to the future generations” (Radio message on 13 May 1942).

From the early centuries of Christianity the family was seen as the Church “in miniature,” and the Church itself was called the “family of God”, especially the Christian community gathered for the celebration of the sacred liturgy was called the “family of God”, as we can often read in the liturgical texts, so for example in the Canon of the Mass. It was especially the Second Vatican Council, which reminded us this ancient truth. In the Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen gentium” the Council teaches: “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care a vocation to a sacred state.” (Lumen gentium, 11). Pope John Paul II, the Pope of the family, made this famous affirmation: “In the future, evangelization will depend largely on the domestic church.” (Address to the Third General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, January 28, 1979). The same Pope said: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, 86).

So great and splendid is the educational ministry of Christian parents that Saint Thomas has no hesitation in comparing it with the ministry of priests: “Some only propagate and guard spiritual life by a spiritual ministry: this is the role of the sacrament of Orders; others do this for both corporal and spiritual life, and this is brought about by the sacrament of marriage, by which a man and a woman join in order to beget offspring and bring them up to worship God.” (Summa contra Gentiles, IV, 58).

Pope John Paul II gives to the catechesis in family the priority over all other forms of catechesis, when he says: “Family catechesis, therefore, precedes, accompanies, and enriches all other forms of catechesis. Furthermore, in places where anti-religious legislation endeavors even to prevent education in the faith, and in places where widespread unbelief or invasive secularism makes real religious growth practically impossible, “the domestic church” remains the one place where children and young people can receive an authentic catechesis. Thus, there cannot be too great an effort on the part of Christian parents to prepare for this ministry of being their own children’s catechists and to carry it out with tireless zeal. Encouragement must also be given to the individuals or institutions that, through person-to-person contacts, through meetings, and through all kinds of pedagogical means, help parents to perform their task: the service they are doing to catechesis is beyond price.” (Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae, 68).

One of the main causes of the moral, spiritual and religious crisis of the current time consists in the religious ignorance, in ignoring the truths of the faith and in an erroneous knowledge of the faith. Pope Pius X very rightly observed this connection, saying: “The enemy has, indeed, long been prowling about the fold and attacking it with such subtle cunning that now, more than ever before, the prediction of the Apostle to the elders of the Church of Ephesus seems to be verified: “I know that . . . fierce wolves will get in among you, and will not spare the flock.” (Act 20:29). Those who still are zealous for the glory of God are seeking the causes and reasons for this decline in religion. Coming to a different explanation, each points out, according to his own view, a different plan for the protection and restoration of the kingdom of God on earth. But it seems to Us, that while we should not overlook other considerations. We are forced to agree with those who hold that the chief cause of the present indifference and, as it were, infirmity of soul, and the serious evils that result from it, is to be found above all in ignorance of things divine. This is fully in accord with what God Himself declared through the Prophet Osee: “And there is no knowledge of God in the land. Cursing and lying and killing and theft and adultery have overflowed: and blood hath touched blood. Thereafter shall the land mourn, and everyone that dwelleth in it shall languish.”(Osee 4:1-3)” (Encyclical Acerbo nimis, 1, 15 April 1905). And Pope Benedict XIV wrote: “We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.” (Instit., 27:18). For this reason the same Pope Benedict XIV said: “There is nothing more effective than catechetical instruction to spread the glory of God and to secure the salvation of souls.” (Constitution, Etsi minime, 13).

The beauty of the Catholic faith manifests itself in a special manner in large families. We possess one of the most striking and illuminating affirmations of the Magisterium on this theme in the following words of Pope Pius XII addressed to the Associations of Large Families: “Large families are the most splendid flower-beds in the garden of the Church. […] The brows of the fathers and mothers may be burdened with cares, but there is never a trace of that inner shadow that betrays anxiety of conscience or fear of an irreparable return to loneliness, Their youth never seems to fade away, as long as the sweet fragrance of a crib remains in the home, as long as the walls of the house echo to the silvery voices of children and grandchildren. Their heavy labors multiplied many times over, their redoubled sacrifices and their renunciation of costly amusements are generously rewarded even here below by the inexhaustible treasury of affection and tender hopes that dwell in their hearts without ever tiring them or bothering them. And the hopes soon become a reality when the eldest daughter begins to help her mother to take care of the baby and on the day the oldest son comes home with his face beaming with the first salary he has earned himself. […] Children in large families learn almost automatically to be careful of what they do and to assume responsibility for it, to have a respect for each other and help each other, to be open-hearted and generous. For them, the family is a little proving ground, before they move into the world outside, which will be harder on them and more demanding.” (Address to the Directors of the Associations for Large Families of Rome and Italy in January 20, 1958).

The beauty of the Catholic faith manifests itself in the fact that it is precisely the family, which is the first breeding ground and the first seedbed for the priestly vocations. The Second Vatican Council spoke about the family as the first seminary in the process of fostering and training priestly vocations (cf. Decree Optatam totius, 2). History has given proof that the majority of priestly vocations come from large families. Pope Pius XII highlighted this interrelationship saying: “With good reason, it has often been pointed out that large families have been in the forefront as the cradles of saints. We might cite, among others, the family of St. Louis, the King of France, made up of ten children, that of St. Catherine of Siena who came from a family of twenty-five, St. Robert Bellarmine from a family of twelve, and St. Pius X from a family of ten. Every vocation is a secret of Providence; but these cases prove that a large number of children does not prevent parents from giving them an outstanding and perfect upbringing; and they show that the number does not work out to the disadvantage of their quality, with regard to either physical or spiritual values.” (Address to the Directors of the Associations for Large Families of Rome and Italy in January 20, 1958).

The supernatural spirit of love and of self-sacrifice of the mother (and oftentimes of the mother of a large family) is the very foundation of a priestly vocation and of the fruitfulness of the priestly life of her son. The following moving example illustrates this truth in an impressive manner: “In the city of Zaborze in Upper Silesia is a grave which is frequently visited by pilgrims. Above the grave rises a Lourdes grotto. At the foot of the statue of the Immaculate Conception, in a little glass case, lies a myrtle wreath. Here is the story of the myrtle wreath. A priest is buried in the grave at the foot of the grotto. He was the youngest of ten children. As a young man he worked very hard to earn enough money to study for the priesthood, because his parents were poor. After his ordination he went as a missionary to India where he worked for many years. When he died they buried him in his home town of Zaborze and erected a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes above his tomb because he had always fostered a special devotion to Mary Immaculate. Some time after the burial of this zealous priest, a little box was found among his possessions with a note pasted upon it: “To be opened after my death.” The box contained a myrtle wreath and this note: “This is my mother’s bridal wreath. I have carried it with me to various countries, on my journeys over land and sea, in memory of that sacred moment when my mother vowed not only fidelity but also uprightness rightness at the altar of God. She has kept that vow. She has had the courage to have me after the ninth child. Next to God I owe her my life and my vocation to the priesthood. If she had not wanted me, I would not have become a priest and a missionary; I would not have been able to work for the salvation of souls. Place this wreath, my mother’s bridal wreath, into my grave. This I ask of the one who finds it.” When they found the wreath, the grave had already been closed, so they placed it at the foot of the statue of the Im­maculate Mother to whom he dedicated his life.” (Lovasik, L.G., Treasury of Catechism Stories, Tarentum PA 1966, nr. 386).

As another example we could mention the mother of Saint Pius X, Margherita Sanson. She raised up ten children. She taught them to pray first thing in the morning, communicate with God throughout the day, and to end each day with prayer, bringing the family together for an examination of conscience. The well-known story of the wedding ring of his mother remains always inspiring: Following her son’s episcopal ordination and placement in Mantova, the future Pope Pius X visited his old mother to thank her. After kissing his episcopal ring, she showed him her wedding ring and said, “Your ring is very beautiful, Giuseppe, but you wouldn’t have it if I didn’t wore this my ring.” I know the following story: A priest came to the mother of a priest to congratulate her with the episcopal nomination of her son. To this congratulation the mother replied: “This does not mean this much. The most important thing is, that my son remain always faithful to Jesus”. And each time when this bishop phones his mother, before hanging up the telephone receiver, she says to her son: “You remain faithful to Jesus!”. To remain faithful to Jesus, means to remain faithful to all of His commandments and to all of His Divine teachings, and to prefer temporal disadvantages and disdain, even on the part of ecclesiastical persons, rather than to make compromises regarding the teaching and the observance of His commandments and teachings.

When parents impart to their children a truly Catholic education in faith, they lay the foundation of the faith of the future priests and bishops. Usually the uncompromising and life-long fidelity to the integrity of the Catholic faith on behalf of a priest and of a bishop, is a fruit of the education which he got in his family from his father or from his mother or from both, or from his grandmother.

The truth which says that the family is the original place of the beauty of the Catholic Faith we can see also in the following edifying witness in the autobiography of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus: “Feast days! Those words conjure up more wonderful memories! I did so love them and you were able to explain so well what they were all about. That again was a foretaste of Heaven. But the procession of the Blessed Sacrament was what I loved best, for I could scatter flowers beneath the feet of God! I used to throw them up high into the air before they fell and when my rose petals touched the monstrance my happiness was complete. The big feasts did not come along so often but there was one most dear to me, and it came every week – Sunday, Our Lord’s own day, a wonderful day, a day of rest. We all went to the High Mass, and when it was time for the sermon, I remember we had to leave our place because it was so far away from the pulpit and go all up the nave to find places nearer. This was not always easy to do, but everyone seemed quite ready to find room for little Thérèse and her father. Uncle, especially, seemed very happy when he saw us Coming; he used to call me his little ray of sunshine and say that the sight of this venerable patriarch hand in hand with his little daughter always touched his heart. The fact that all this drew attention to us never bothered me; I was far too interested in what the priest was saying. The first sermon I really understood was one on Our Lord’s Passion, and I was very much moved by it; that was when I was five and a half, and from then on I could take in and appreciate all that was said. If ever St. Teresa was mentioned, Father used to bend down toward me and whisper: “Listen, my Little Queen, he is talking about your Patron Saint.” Then I would really listen, but I am afraid I kept my eyes on Father far more than on the preacher because I could read such a lot in his noble face. Sometimes his eyes would fill with tears he could not keep back, and when he was listening to the eternal truths, he seemed to be already in another world and no longer in this. He was then a long way from his journey’s end, however; long, sad years had yet to pass before he opened his eyes on Heaven’s loveliness and Jesus wiped away His faithful servant’s tears” (Story of a soul).

In those times, the Eucharistic liturgy was not celebrated in the vernacular and without explanatory remarks and commentaries. However, Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus and her father Saint Louis Martin had a very intense active participation in the liturgy of the Holy Mass, an active participation, which was marked with silence, as recommended also by the Second Vatican Council (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 30). Undoubtedly, their participation in the liturgy was more active, that means, more conscious, attentive and pious than that of many Catholics in our days, where the liturgy is celebrated entirely in vernacular and where active participation is realized in playing an exterior liturgical role, against the prescriptions of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 28; 36; 56). Recently Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship, made the following apt observation on this issue: “Most of the faithful—including priests and bishops—do not know this teaching of the Council. […] As Benedict XVI often emphasized, at the root of the liturgy is adoration, and therefore God. Hence it is necessary to recognize that the serious, profound crisis that has affected the liturgy and the Church itself since the Council is due to the fact that its center is no longer God and the adoration of Him, but rather men and their alleged ability to “do” something to keep themselves busy during the Eucharistic celebrations.” (Address to the Colloquium “The Source of the Future” on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI, March 29 – April 1, 2017, Herzogenrath, Germany).

The present situation of the world and partly of the life of many Catholics and ministers of the Church could be characterized as a great apostasy, an apostasy from the faith in the true Divinity of Christ, from the faith in the unique way of salvation through Christ and an apostasy from the faith in the perennial validity of the Divine commandments. Such an apostasy signifies ultimately to renounce Christ and to accept the spirit of the world, diluting Christ in a gnostic manner into the materialistic, naturalistic and esoteric spirit of the world. Recently Cardinal Robert Sarah made the following striking statement on the real current spiritual situation inside the Church: “Political Europe is rebuked for abandoning or denying its Christian roots. But the first to have abandoned her Christian roots and past is indisputably the post-conciliar Catholic Church. […] While more and more voices of high-ranking prelates stubbornly affirm obvious doctrinal, moral and liturgical errors that have been condemned a hundred times and work to demolish the little faith remaining in the people of God, while the bark of the Church furrows the stormy sea of this decadent world and the waves crash down on the ship, so that it is already filling with water, a growing number of Church leaders and faithful shout: “Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise!” “Everything is just fine, Milady!”)” ” (Address to the Colloquium “The Source of the Future” on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI, March 29 – April 1, 2017, Herzogenrath, Germany). These words reflect perfectly the analysis of the modern world made by Saint Pius X already hundred years ago: “The great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, neither discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world (if such a Church could overcome) the reign of legalized cunning and force, and the oppression of the weak, and of all those who toil and suffer. […] Indeed, the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries, nor innovators: they are traditionalists.” (Encyclical Notre Charge Apostolique).

The Catholic family as the original place of the experience of the beauty of the Catholic Faith. The Catholic family represents the first bulwark against the current great apostasy. The two most efficient weapons against the modern apostasy outside and inside the life if the Church, are the purity and integrity of the faith and the purity of a chaste life. The admonition which Saint Louis IX, King of France, left to his son, remains always valid: “My dearest son, my first instruction is that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength. Without this there is no salvation. Keep yourself, my son, from everything that you know displeases God, that is to say, from every mortal sin. You should permit yourself to be tormented by every kind of martyrdom before you would allow yourself to commit a mortal sin. […] Work to remove all sin from your land, particularly blasphemies and heresies” (Letter to his son).

Once a member of an anti-christian movement, who later converted to the Catholic Church, said to Fr. Mateo Crawley, the Apostle of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart: “We have only one goal in mind: to dechristianise the family. We leave to the Catholics gladly the churches, the chapels, the cathedrals. For us it is enough to have the family in order to corrupt the society. If we have control over the family, our victory over the Church is guaranteed” (Freundeskreis Maria Goretti e.V. (ed.), Familie und Glaube, München 2001, p. 146). True Catholic families – and desirably large families – will strengthen the Church of our days with the beauty of the Catholic Faith. From that faith will come out new Catholic fathers and mothers, and from them there will come out a new generation of zealous priests and intrepid bishops, who will be ready to give their life for Christ and for the salvation of the souls. The Christianity was born out of the family, the Holy Family, so that the family may be born again out of the Christianity. The first fruit of the redemption is the Holy Family, just as the first blessing of the Creator was given to the family. Indeed, what the current world and the Church mostly need, are true Catholic families, the original places of the beauty of the Catholic Faith.

+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

Read the full article at Voice of the Family

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Cardinal Sin
A critical reaction to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s call for legislation banning ‘forcible conversions’ ( ‘The Island’ March 29th 2017 )

Professor Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka
Emeritus Professor ( University of Peradeniya )

{Nota Bene: Professor Asoka is a Christian, but he is not a Roman Catholic}

Professor Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka,
Emeritus Professor
91, Epitamulla Road

011-2862200, 077-3277678

Cardinal Sin : A critical reaction to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s call for legislation banning ‘forcible conversions’ ( ‘The Island’ March 29th 2017 )

Professor Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka
Emeritus Professor ( University of Peradeniya )

It is to be hoped that the government will treat Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s recent call for retrogressive anti conversion legislation with the contempt it deserves. It is a foolish and dangerous attempt to revive a defunct proposal that was thankfully shelved some years ago. While the Cardinal’s opinion is repugnant to non – Roman Catholic Christians in Sri Lanka, it is evident from his own admission that it is a personal view that may not even be shared by the Catholic Bishops Conference. That he should be in a minority is not surprising considering the awful irony that what the Cardinal is asking for is the very thing that is being demanded by religious fanatics who are hostile to the Christian Church !

It is sad to see the stark contrast between the attitude of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and saintly bishops like the late Bishop Frank Marcus Fernando who in his lifetime was a redoubtable fighter against all anti – conversion legislation. Amongst my most cherished correspondence is a hand written letter dated July 6th 2004 from the beloved Bishop ( even though he did not know me personally and I am not a Roman Catholic ), conveying his congratulations for what he termed an “excellent” article titled “ Legislation Driven by Conversion Phobia” in the “Island” newspaper of 5th and 6th July 2004. Bishop Frank Marcus concluded his appreciative note by saying “At our level we are doing our best to stop this foolish and dangerous legislation” – wise words which are a devastating though posthumous indictment of the measures being proposed by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.

It is on record that in 2011 the Cardinal made a similar suggestion to the previous regime with which he seems to have had a cordial relationship. Wiser counsel having prevailed then the Cardinal’s attempt to flog a dead horse now with the present regime, seems like a burst of episcopal megalomania by an arrogant prelate who is out of touch with reality. The Cardinal’s call for what he termed “new laws to put an end to the issue of forcible conversions and preserve religious harmony” is invalid on several counts.
1. It is largely based on anti Christian slander and hearsay rather than verifiable fact.

2. It reflects a naïve and distorted understanding of the concept of religious conversion.
3. It is callous in that it ignores the reality of Christian persecution in Sri Lanka.

4. It is inflammatory in that it emboldens the fanatics and goons who are harassing Christians in various parts of the country.

5. It’s pluralist undertone reflects a corrupted theology running counter to the pre-eminent uniqueness of the truth of Christianity as clearly set out in scripture.

6. Worst of all the statement represents an oblique cynical devaluation of our Lord’s great Commission “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15-16).
Considering the inappropriateness of the Cardinal’s statement at so many levels, one is forced to the conclusion that notwithstanding imposing ecclesiastical rank and title he has betrayed and potentially compromised the security of many faithful Christians who whatever their denomination are the “people of God” in the Universal Church. Cardinal he may be by Papal edict, but whether he is a Christian by biblical definition is the question ? Alas we live in an age where there are too many pluralist Bishops who are not necessarily ‘believers’ in the strict Biblical sense.
For the sake of clarity it is instructive to briefly amplify the 6 reasons for rejecting the Cardinal’s statement enumerated above :
1. Anti Christian slander and biased reports of ‘unethical’ evangelism raise the question “what then is the ‘ethical’ approach to evangelism” ? In a world reeking in unbelief idolatry and superstition the Christian approach to evangelism was brilliantly summarized by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church in AD 56 “ But we have renounced disgraceful and underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” ( 2 Cor 4:2-4).

There is no doubt that in conformity with Jesus’s “great commission” it is the inalienable duty of all Christians whether priests pastors or laity to proclaim the truth of the Gospel boldly, honestly, and without prevarication urgently calling sinful humanity to repentance and faith in Christ, there being “ . . salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christian martyrs throughout history have laid down their lives propagating the gospel in a hostile world. This year we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and remember saints like William Tyndale who was strangled and burnt for translating the Bible into English enabling the truth of the gospel to be transmitted to the uttermost corners of the earth.

Nevertheless Paul makes it clear that while it is incumbent on Christians to relentlessly proclaim the gospel it is not expected of an evangelist that he should cajole, plead with, manipulate, entice, or much less compel anyone to accept it. Conversion is the work of God not man. The worldwide Church is bound to relentlessly announce the Gospel whatever the opposition. But it is God who converts the heart and draws his own to him at his own sovereign will and pleasure. Jesus himself emphasised “ No one can come to me unless the Father ( ie.God ) who sent me draws him . . . Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me . . .” (Jn 6:44,45). And he bluntly told those who rejected the gospel “ but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (Jn 10:26,27). As Paul explains in his famous letter written from a Roman prison those who hear the gospel and respond to it have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world and predestined for adoption as children of God according to the purpose of his sovereign will ( Eph 1:4-5 ). “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son . . .And those whom he predestined he also called . .” (Rom 8:29-30)

Consequently people of other religions who hear the wonderful gospel of grace preached to them should count it a privilege rather than an intrusion. Nobody does the omnipotent God who created heaven and earth a favour by responding to the gospel. People do themselves a favour by being reconciled to God by submitting to the gospel in repentance and faith, receiving forgiveness for sin, and the promise of eternal life. They take or leave the gospel preached to them at their own peril – “whoever believes in the Son ( ie. Christ Jesus ) has eternal life,whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jn 3:36).

For this reason the gospel must be preached with passionate zeal, urgency, and longing for the salvation of souls, and yet with the pragmatic realisation that whether people accept or reject it is the prerogative of God who said “ I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Rom 9:15). As the apostle Paul clarifies “ So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Rom 9:18)

The extent to which pastors in Sri Lanka have deviated from this standard has never been objectively documented. Consequently Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s concerns about so called ‘forcible conversions’ are a misplaced reaction to slander and anecdotal reports that are capable of variable interpretation. There is no reliable statistical evidence to suggest that unethical approaches are commonplace. Therefore allegations of aggressive provocative Christian evangelism are probably biased and grossly exaggerated if not palpably false, especially when they originate from fanatics who would like to magnify isolated incidents and stir up public discord with the intention of stopping any kind of Christian propagation. The Cardinal’s obsession with “unethical conversions” does not stand on a foundation of detached objective investigation and evidence. It is unthinkable that he should canvass legislation over a problem whose true prevalence is only a matter of hearsay. All allegations of Christian workers using improper means to promote their faith remain unproven until they are corroborated through fair and independent inquiry.

2. The Cardinal’s call reflects a naïve and distorted understanding of the concept of religious conversion. To talk of ‘forcible conversions’ in Sri Lanka is misleading nonsense. There is no such entity in Sri Lanka. When the radical Islamists of ISIS threaten to slit the throat of Christians in areas under their control in Iraq and Syria unless they convert to Islam – that is forcible conversion. It has no parallel in Sri Lanka. For Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith to rant about forcible conversions in Sri Lanka is not only ludicrous, it is an insult to the faithful Christian martyrs who resist forcible conversion and heroically lay down their lives daily in other parts of the world. What is more pertinent in Sri Lanka is the forcible restraint and persecution of those who voluntarily convert to Christianity, by rowdy mobs and fanatics of other religions who are determined to stop anyone leaving their fold. The problem is not forcible conversion but the forcible prevention of voluntary conversion to Christianity.

3. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s preoccupation with the delusion of forcible conversions reflects a callous disregard for the real problem of religious discord in Sri Lanka ie. the widespread harassment of Christians who are engaged in peaceful worship and propagation of their faith – which is their Christian duty and constitutional right. According to my records there have been about 500 incidents of harassment of Christian workers in different parts of the country from 2002 to the present. This might be a significant underestimate given other reports which claim more than 100 attacks an year. Such incidents ( now receiving global publicity ) have included arson, death threats, obstruction of burials, destructive attacks on churches, disruption of worship, home invasions, stoning, assault, verbal abuse, mob attacks, threat of acid attack, police intimidation and inaction, and other forms of persistent harassment and interference with religious freedom.

It is intolerable that the Cardinal should be insensitive to this reality and distracted by the fantasy of so called forced conversions. One wonders whether – not unlike the frustrated restaurateur who resents his customers leaving him for an eating house where the food tastes better – what is really driving the Cardinal is bitterness over any disillusioned Roman Catholics who might have deserted the religious formalism, institutional traditions, and theological distortions of the Roman Church for the riches of the glorious gospel of grace ( sola gracia ) preached by non conformist pastors in the power of the Spirit based on the supreme authority of scripture (sola scriptura) !

4. The Cardinal’s reference to ‘forcible conversions’ resonates with the language of the rowdy monks and fanatical mobs who are harassing Christians in various parts of the country as described above. His remarks will only embolden elements hostile to the church who sensing that the Cardinal is on their side may actually intensify their attacks on Christians. To that extent the Cardinal’s statement potentially compromises the security of pastors who preach the gospel. Scripture everywhere proclaims the doom of those who reject the gospel. How much more fearful the accountability of those like the Cardinal who while claiming to be leaders of the Church are guilty of deliberately obstructing its propagation ?

5. Past utterances suggest that Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s recent call for anti conversion laws arises from an unscriptural ( even heretical ) pluralist mindset where he appears to believe that Christianity and Buddhism are equally valid pathways to salvation. During an August 2016 correspondence I recall confronting the Cardinal with Elijah’s famous challenge to Israel “ How Long Will You go Limping Between Two Different Opinions ? If the Lord is God Follow Him, but if Baal then Follow him” (1 Kgs 18:21). It was in response to media reports that at some ceremony to honour a Mahanayake he had seemingly conceded that Buddhism was a panacea for mental stress, asserted that the prominence of the country relied on Buddhism, opposed any change in the favoured treatment afforded to Buddhism in the constitution, admitted that ‘we all live in a country nourished by Buddhism’ and offered to “cooperate with the Maha Sangha to enhance the spiritual improvement of the people” – pluralist views and attitudes that are wholly inconsistent with any biblical understanding of the Christian religion where Jesus unequivocally stated that He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life and that apart from Him there are no other pathways to heaven whatsoever ( see Jn:14 ). Against this background we should not be surprised at the Cardinal’s hostility to evangelism by non conformist pastors in Sri Lanka. We need not speculate here whether the Cardinal’s religious pluralism is a reflection of his theology, or whether it represents astute politically correct posturing that might enhance his image in a multicultural society. Either way it is a travesty of biblical Christianity.

6. The saddest thing about the Cardinal’s call for anti-conversion laws is that it implies a lukewarm, half hearted attitude to our Lords great commission “ Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation . . “ (Mk 16:15). The psalmist was categorical that “ all the gods of the peoples ( Buddhists / Hindus included !) are worthless idols” (Ps 96:5) while Jesus told Paul on the road to Damascus “ I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God . .” (Acts 26:18), as a consequence of which the great apostle saw his earthly ministry plainly in terms of having “ to preach to the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ . . “ (Eph 3:8). By contrast the Cardinal’s priority seems to be the suave diplomatic pursuance of multi faith fellowship and popularity, no matter if millions perish in the darkness of unbelief never having heard the gospel.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith might do well to ponder whether in calling for foolish and dangerous anti conversion laws he joins those who in the words of Paul “ . . . drove us out and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved . . .” ( 1 Thes:2:15-16 ). It should be our hope and prayer that if nothing else Paul’s solemn reference to the fate of such persons at the end of verse 16, might lead the Cardinal to godly repentance, a change of heart, and public retraction of his unfortunate remarks.


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9 Things We’ve Lost in the Liturgy (Besides Latin)



Recently I’ve been reading The Hobbit to two of my young children. Central to the story is lost treasure: Thorin and his fellow dwarves ask for Bilbo Baggins’ help in reclaiming their trove, which has been captured by the dragon Smaug and hidden deep within the Lonely Mountain. As I read the book, I can’t help but think of our own day’s lost treasure: the liturgical patrimony of the Catholic Church.

After the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), massive changes were made to the liturgy which involved the abandonment of many traditional practices. None were more noticeable to the average Catholic (and even non-Catholic) than the abandonment of Latin in favor of the vernacular. Yet there have been many other changes, and although they are not as noticeable to the casual observer as the loss of Latin, they are each sadly significant nonetheless.

Now, one might imagine that someone lamenting these losses is simply a nostalgic child of the 50’s, pining for the Church of his youth. However, I was born after Vatican II ended, and didn’t even become Catholic until the 1990’s. I never even attended the “old Mass” until about 10 years ago. Further, I came into the Church by way of the charismatic renewal, which isn’t exactly known for old-school liturgies. And if I’m being completely honest, I generally prefer a liturgy in English. Yet over the years the treasure we’ve lost has become more evident, and more painful, to me.

9 Liturgical Losses

Here are some of those lost aspects of the Roman liturgy from the past 50 years, in no particular order:

1) Ad Orientem

We no longer celebrate the Mass with the priest leading us to the Father. Instead, we gaze at each other while proclaiming How Great We Art. I can’t imagine a more dramatic symbolic divergence than turning the priest away from God and towards the people he’s supposed to be leading. It’s like Moses trying to lead the Chosen People to the Promised Land without ever actually looking toward Zion.

2) Altar Rails

The altar rail was a staple of Catholic churches for generations. Then it was tossed aside like a Hollywood actor discovered to be a conservative. This loss has led to secondary losses: the practice of receiving communion while kneeling, and the distinct separation between the sanctuary and the nave. (In fact, most people don’t know what a nave is, and call the whole church a sanctuary).

3) Communion on the Tongue

Although Communion on the tongue is still allowed, the vast majority of people receive communion in the hand now. I once attended a First Communion retreat for one of my daughters in which the presenter told the children that First Communion meant they had grown up, and only babies are fed in the mouth. Afterwards, I told my daughter that in the eyes of God, we are small children, and receiving on the tongue signifies our complete dependence on the Lord, like little birds receiving food from their mother.

4) Bowing of the Head at the Name of the Three Divine Persons, or Jesus, or Mary 

The first time I ever attended a Latin Mass it was an elaborate High Mass with dozens of seminarians and priests serving. At every mention of the name of Jesus or Mary or the Three Divine Persons, every single one of them bowed their head in unison. I was struck by this gesture of respect, and thought to myself, “Now these people have respect for the Faith.”

5) Sacred Music

To compare today’s Haugen-Haas mess with the beautiful musical patrimony of the Church is to compare a package of Starbursts with a seven-course meal at a five-star restaurant. Today’s music is sickly-sweet and leaves you empty, while music that stirs the soul and lifts the heart heavenward has been forgotten.

6) Sacred Architecture

For centuries, communities would band together to build, at great expense and sacrifice, churches worthy of the Almighty God. But if you tour the well-off suburbs of America, you see Pizza Hut parishes and what appear to be abandoned airplane hangers posing as Catholic churches. The feast for the eyes that are older Catholic churches has been replaced with the battle of the bland and blander. No longer do you walk into a Catholic church and immediately know you’re in a sacred place where the Lord is worshipped. If you didn’t know beforehand, you might think its where you go to get your driver’s license renewed.

7) Use of the Paten When Receiving Communion

Once communion in the hand became commonplace, the simple paten, which the altar boy placed under your chin lest any of the precious Host fall onto the ground, was retired. Yet the paten represented something: that we really, trulybelieved that what we were receiving wasn’t a piece of bread that could be trampled upon, but instead was the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

8) Altar Boys

In our culture’s quest to become genderless, the Church has felt the need to placate that culture as much as possible. Thus gender-specific roles, if they were not divinely ordained like the priesthood, were abolished. The training ground for future priests became something we wanted little Sarah to do, because “she’d be just as good at it as Johnny.” Of course, it was never about ability, but instead reflected the imaging of the God-man Jesus Christ and the essential differences in roles between men and women.

9) Genuflecting at the Final Blessing and During the Creed

Protestants like to joke that there is a lot of standing and kneeling at a Catholic Mass. And compared to a typical Protestant service, they are correct. Yet even that had to be streamlined in our efforts to “simplify” the liturgy. So ancient practices of genuflecting for blessings, or while proclaiming the Incarnation during the Creed, have been shunted aside. Gone is another gesture of reverence to remind us of the great mysteries we are celebrating.

Exponential Losses

Each loss, by itself, might seem a minor thing. None of these lost aspects, of course, impact the validity of a Mass. The Eucharist is still the Eucharist in today’s Mass. But each loss – especially when combined with all the other ones – substantially impact our reverence when celebrating the sacred mysteries. They impact our subjective reception and participation in the graces we receive at the Mass.

Also, note that none of these things are related to Latin in the Mass. After all, almost every one of these aspects of the Liturgy we’ve lost are retained in the Eastern liturgy, which is usually celebrated in the vernacular, and never in Latin.

The reasons that were given for the discarding of traditional liturgical practices was that it would allow people to participate more fully, and would make the Mass more palatable to the “common man.” The evidence, however, points in the opposite direction. “Simplifying” the liturgy has made it less special, which has made it less attractive to attend. On a Sunday morning, when someone has a choice between relaxing at home or attending an insipid imitation of a bad high school musical, what will the common person choose? However, if the option were a reverent partaking of heavenly mysteries that transports one beyond space and time, it might be a far more compelling choice than checking out the Sunday news shows.

I tend to look at most things in the Church through an evangelization lens since I’ve been involved in Catholic evangelization for decades. I’ve written before that the purpose of the Mass is not evangelization but the glorification of God. Yet there are evangelization consequences to poor liturgies (and I mean poor in two senses of the word: badly executed and with a poverty of reverence). It sends a signal that we don’t take this God stuff too seriously, and you shouldn’t either. Is this the message we want to send to the world?

Catholics should mourn for what has been lost in the liturgy in the past generation. These losses have contributed to the Church losing much of her soul, and in the process, losing many of her members as well. Let us pray for Bilbos to arise and work tirelessly to restore the lost treasure that has been buried out of sight for so long. To do so might involve fighting dragons, but the treasure we are working to unearth is worth it.

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